Ingram Micro claims its virtual tradeshow is just one of several new initiatives aimed at giving resellers better and more targeted access to technology information in 2010.
Last week, the distributor announced it would replace its national expotech roadshow with Virtual Expotech 2010. The concept is based around a 3D online exhibition hall which allows vendors to display their latest products as well as interact with resellers using avatars. Features include live webinar sessions, video and audio-based content at the stands, online dialogue and real-time chat between vendors and attendees, and the latest product information. The Web-based portal can also be used to outline new promotions, product catalogues and news items.
Virtual Expotech is expected to go live in March 2010 and will be hosted online for the rest of the year. There will be four types of stands available based on Platinum, Gold, Silver and Bronze sponsorships. The portal will operate separately to Ingram’s TechLink partner purchasing system.
Ingram marketing manager, Linda Pifat, said it hoped to have more interaction with the TechLink site in Virtual Expotech’s second iteration, slated for July 2010. It is also planning additional feature sets. The 3D portal was developed in conjunction with Australian software developer, Random Media.
“We will take into account reseller feedback on our services, education and training,” Pifat said. “Our intent is to link to TechLink at a future stage.”
Vendors will be responsible for continually updating their Expotech content, while Ingram will take charge of marketing and reseller services.
Virtual Expotech will be supported by a calendar of 86 events across the country next year. Branded under the SMART (Success, Motivation, Achievement, Results and Technology) moniker, initiatives range from golf days and social networking opportunities, through to technical demonstrations and sales training, regional mini-expos and partner reward trips like the recent Kokoda trail experience. These will be available in both consumer and channel streams.
Speaking at the launch event in Sydney, Ingram commercial and marketing director, John Walters, said the SMART series and Virtual Expotech provided an integrated, complementary set of partner events which would increase the distributor’s touch into the channel. He also highlighted Virtual Expotech as a global first.
“Our 12-month aim is to provide increased coverage of the channel and better ROI for our vendors partners in 2010,” he said. “We want to show thought and execution leadership.”
What was also apparent was that the traditional tradeshow approach was in decline, Walters said. Over all expotech events in 2009, attendance figures were down 22 per cent year-on-year, while vendor participation dropped by 18 per cent. Virtual Expotech would also allow resellers to check in with vendors when it suited them, instead of having to make time to get to a physical event.
“Expotech is a good event and has had good attendance, but the traditional tradeshow is slowing down and is on the back of the wave... We wanted to show distribution leadership and get on the front,” Walters added.